A South Korean F-15K drops a SLAM-ER precision air-to-ground missile north of the NLL on the morning Nov. 2. (courtesy of Joint Chiefs of Staff)
North Korea fired 25 missiles into the waters off its eastern and western coasts on Wednesday, one of which crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL) and triggered an air raid warning for Ulleung Island.
President Yoon Suk-yeol in South Korea said of the latest action, “North Korea’s provocations today are a territorial violation of the NLL by missiles, the first of its kind since the division of the Korean Peninsula,” and called for “a swift and strict response to make North Korea pay a price for its provocations.”
In response, the South Korean military fired three air-to-ground missiles into international waters north of the NLL in the East Sea.
According to the military’s explanation, North Korea fired 25 missiles of various types, including short-range ballistic missiles and surface-to-air missiles, toward the seas on either coast.
The missiles were launched from 13 locations over four separate times – four missiles were fired at 6:51 am, three at 8:51 am, 12 at 9:12 am, and six at 4:30 pm.
One of the three missiles fired at 8:51 am crossed the NLL in the East Sea by 26 kilometers (16 miles) and landed in open waters 57 km east of Sokcho, Gangwon Province. North Korea had fired coastal artillery and rocket launchers that crossed south of the NLL in the past, but this is the first time that a North Korean missile has crossed the NLL since Korea was divided.
At 1:27 pm, North Korea fired approximately 100 artillery rounds into the East Sea buffer zone, in violation of the Sep. 19 comprehensive inter-Korean military agreement.
North Korea claimed that they had launched the missiles in response to the “Vigilant Storm” joint air drill by South Korea and the US, which started Monday and runs through Friday.
The short-range ballistic missile that crossed the NLL landed outside South Korean territorial waters (about 22 km from the land border). The missile flew 190 km and fell in waters 167 km northwest of Ulleung Island. An air raid warning was subsequently issued on the island at 8:54 am.
“The flight direction of the missile that crossed the NLL did not directly head toward Ulleung Island, but the military issued an air raid warning to secure public safety upon first capturing the missile,” said a military official.
This is the first time in six years and nine months that an air raid warning has been issued, the last having been on Feb. 7, 2016, for the Baengnyeong and Daecheong island region of the West Sea since when North Korea launched a long-range missile.
Yoon presided over an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting and stressed that the military should respond strictly, saying, “None of North Korea’s attempts to shake up our society and the South Korea-US alliance will work.”
Accordingly, South Korea fired three air-to-ground missiles from F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, including the SLAM-ER that can precision strike key targets in North Korea, in international waters north of the East Sea at 11:10 am.
Earlier in the day, North Korea released a statement by Pak Jong-chon, the secretary of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, who oversees the North’s military policy, saying, “Such military rashness and provocation can be no longer tolerated” The statement, which mentioned having to pay a “most horrible price” ramped up the pressure on South Korea.
By Kwon Hyuk-chul, staff reporter
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